Tag: Mom Blogger

Touch & Learn Activity Desk Deluxe | Perfect For Christmas

Gearing up our children for the start of school can be scary for both parents and child. I know that is how we felt before our little Nikki started school this year. But with all our prepping and teaching leading up to the first day made the transition a bit easier for the both of us.

VTech also recognizes the importance of the first day of school. To help preschoolers for this important milestone, VTech has developed the Preschool Learning series of interactive toys. One of these toys in the series is the Touch & Learn Activity Desk Deluxe and we are delighted to share our thoughts on it for all of you!

The Touch & Learn Activity Desk Deluxe features an interactive desktop with activity cards that introduce letters, numbers, music, colors and much more. Extend playtime with additional activity packs that each focus on a specific curriculum (each sold separately). Flip up the desktop and create a masterpiece using the art station or chalkboard. For more fun, play with the toy telephone or listen to fun tunes on the music player. The possibilities are endless!


Touch & Learn Activity Desk Deluxe Features

There are so many wonderful features that we briefly touched on above but now let us break it down for you. 😉

Mode Switch

You have two modes to pick from which are the Activity Mode and Music Mode. Activity Mode is where all the features will be accessible. The Music Mode is where the activity page area will become deactivated so you can use the desktop for reading or listening to music.

Toy Telephone Mode Buttons

In the Toy Telephone Mode, you can learn numbers and even Call A Friend Mode. You can also press the Number Buttons to learn and explore numbers.

LED Display

The LED Display is where you can see games, pictures or animations.

Cartridge Slot

Each expansion pack (sold separately) comes with a cartridge. To play an expansion pack, insert the cartridge, then insert one of the pack’s activity cards.

Music Player Controls

Press the “Play” button to Play/Stop the music, and press the ‘forward’ or ‘back’ buttons to go to the previous or next song.

Volume Buttons

As parents we can really appreciate and love this feature which is the volume adjust button. There are five volume levels. Adjust it to the way that works for you and your family.

Activity Card Slot

Insert one of the activity cards into this SLOT to play.

Activity Page Mode Icons

Use your finger to touch any of the Mode Icons on the activity page to play.

Activity Page Area

Follow the game instructions and use your finger to touch the objects on the activity page to play.

Art Station

The Activity Desk is not only a learning centre but you can flip it up and it transforms to an art station. You can use the clip to hold a paper for some drawing or use the chalkboard surface to chalk a masterpiece.

#MelAndNikkiReview

We absolutely love the Touch & Learn Activity Desk DeluxeThis activity desk has so much to offer little ones and it is a great stepping stone into the next milestone of learning. There are so many fun activities and options available to provide hours of fun. Nikki’s favorite part is the ability to transform the activity desk to an art station. We find it brings out her artistic side but also encourages her to try and write out the letters that she is learning. Nikki also loves using the activity cards to learn. We are delighted that with the activity cards she has learned so much more. The learning that she does with the Touch & Learn Activity Desk Deluxe gives her that extra confidence that every child needs. Therefore, we give the Touch & Learn Activity Desk Deluxe 5+++ stars out of 5!

We love it so much that we have placed the Touch & Learn Activity Desk Deluxe on our recommended list! It offers diverse learning with an interactive touch which makes it so much more fun for any child. VTech has truly developed an amazing toy that encompasses all that a child and a parent would hope for. It allows a child to have fun, learn and be creative all in one. Couldn’t ask for anything better!

If you would like to purchase one for your little one (highly recommended) you can click here for the purple and pink and click here for the red and yellow option.

We are sure it will light up the hearts and minds of your little one.

Until next time…Happy Parenting!

-Momma Braga

* This product was given in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was provided and all opinions are solely of Momma Braga.

Pregnancy- Dealing With The Difficulties

Whether it’s a surprise or a much-wanted gift, pregnancy certainly isn’t easy. From the physical symptoms to the hormonal mood swings, it can be one hell of a rollercoaster ride. If you’re finding that you’re suffering during your pregnancy, here are some of the difficulties you may be facing and what to do about them.

Pixabay

Morning Sickness

It may be called morning sickness but that doesn’t mean it just happens in the morning. A lot of women suffer from nausea and sickness all day long during the first trimester, and for some unlucky women it lasts the whole pregnancy. It can be nothing less than debilitating, so if you’re suffering badly and there’s no remedy you can find that helps, you need to speak to your midwife or doctor. They may be able to prescribe something that eases the symptoms for you.

Pixabay

Your Relationship

It’s often difficult for men and women to connect and communicate during pregnancy. You may feel like your relationship is suffering and you’re both under stress. You’ll likely both have different sets of priorities and it can be tough to understand one another. Set some time aside and spend a few hours trying to communicate with each other. You may want to seek the advice of a counsellor if you’re unable to settle things alone.

Your Mental Health

There are a lot of hormonal changes going on in a pregnant woman’s body. You may be finding that you’re feeling low or depressed. Many pregnant women don’t feel like they can talk about this for fear of being judged that they aren’t happy about the pregnancy. If you’re feeling this way, it may help you to visit a women’s health clinic and discuss your feelings. It could help you to make the right choices, depending on your situation.

Pixabay

Unable to Work

Some women find that they are unable to work due to the severe symptoms of their pregnancies. It could be morning sickness, migraines, dizziness or any number of ailments that prevents them from working. If you’re unable to work during your pregnancy, you may be worried about your income. Talk to your midwife about support you may be entitled to. Mothers who are not working can sometimes claim grants and vouchers to help towards setting the home up for their new arrival and pregnancy vitamins to keep mother and baby healthy.

Talk to Other Mothers

There are a lot of pregnancies that aren’t straight forward. Whether it’s because of worries about the baby’s health, complications during birth or worry about loss, it’s always good to know you’re not alone. Hearing positive stories from women who have been through the same situation can give you the positivity you need to get through your pregnancy. If you don’t want to join groups and talk face to face, there are some fantastic online forums, like Mumsnet, where you can join in conversations, ask questions or just read through previous threads.

Good luck and stay healthy!

 

 

The Day Santa Stopped Believing in Harold | Book Review

I have heard many children question the belief in Santa Claus but what if Santa actually questioned the belief of your child?

Interesting concept, isn’t it?! It definitely was to me and our next book feature does just that!

I am delighted to present to all of you The Day Santa Stopped Believing in Harold written by Maureen Fergus and illustrated by Cale Atkinson.

Synopsis

“I know this is going to come as a dreadful shock to all of you, but the truth is…I’ve stopped believing in Harold. I want to believe in Harold, I really do. But a lot of my friends don’t believe in him anymore. The handwriting on his Christmas list is suspiciously neat. And that Harold who sat on my knee at the mall the other day? Well, he looked AWFULLY different from last year’s Harold. Is Harold just a beloved story? A practical joke? A gift-stealing scheme? Who REALLY puts out the cookies and milk on Christmas Eve? This year, I’m going to find out once and for all. Sincerely, Santa.”

#MelAndNikkiReview

To say that we loved the book would be an understatement! What an amazing twist on “believing.” The Day Santa Stopped Believing in Harold is creative and very well written. From beginning to end the story was told beautifully with the illustrations bringing it to life. Nikki couldn’t help but giggle when Santa was questioning the “realness” of Harold and if he actually existed. Nikki exclaimed, “Santa is being so silly. Of course Harold is real. We are all real kids.” Great job Nikki! You sure are!

We loved how while Santa is questioning the existence of Harold, Harold is doing the same about Santa. How cute is that! We just adored it and we won’t spoil the end as we do recommend this book for your Christmas reading with your little ones.

Nikki loved the book so much that she took it to class with her which is always the big test for a children’s book. We are delighted to report that it was a hit in Nikki’s Kindergarten class and got the stamp of approval. It is truly the highest honor an author can get since it is hard to truly get a big classroom of four and five year old’s to enjoy a book.

Therefore for this #MelAndNikkiReview we give The Day Santa Stopped Believing in Harold 5+++ stars out of 5! This is a new family favorite this holiday season.

If you would like to purchase this lovely book, click here. This would also make a great Christmas gift idea! We recommend this book for children four to eight but really it can be for anyone who wants a great Christmas story.

Until next time…Happy Parenting!

-Momma Braga

*This book was given in exchange for an honest review.

Genuine Side Hustles You Can Start From Your Living Room

If you’re a stay at home mom, you may be looking at ways to start an online business from home so that you can continue to earn money and direct your creative talent and energy towards something without having to leave your kids.

Unfortunately with so many scams and non-legitimate business opportunities flooding the internet, it can be difficult, overwhelming and downright scary to try and find something that will actually help you achieve your goals of working from home and making money doing something you love that you can organize around your existing commitments.

In this post we’re going to share with you some genuine side hustle ideas that you can start from your life whilst your children are napping or after they go to bed, and that once they’re bigger you can even turn into a full-time online business if you want to.

Blogging:

Blogging is a great way to make extra money online by writing about things you love and are passionate about. You could start a blog on any subject you desire and blog as little or as much as your schedule allows – as long as you stay consistent with your posts and deliver value to your readers then it really doesn’t matter if you blog once per week or 5 times per week. It’s something you can do anytime of the day and completely on your own schedule, so it’s perfect if you only have an hour or two during the day when the kids are napping.

Freelancing:

If you have skills in a specific area such as writing or designing, then offering your services as a freelancer or consultant to businesses who could help with their marketing or branding, for example, could be a great way to earn some money at home on your own schedule. The great thing about freelancing is that you get to set your own hours which also allows you to create the kind of work/life balance you want whilst earning money at the same time.

Sell handmade products:

If you love to make DIY craft things such as bath products, candles, t-shirts, or even gift cards and bags then you could enable yourself to make some extra cash online by selling these on places like Etsy and eBay. Although you’ll probably have to buy the equipment and materials like vinylcuttingmachineguide.com best vinyl cutting machine to get started, you can pick these up very affordably and if you know how to market your products correctly, then you’ll make the money back pretty fast, anyway.

Affiliate marketing:

This is actually one of the best, quickest, and easiest ways to start earning money online, and although it works best if you have a blog, it’s not essential that you do. Affiliate marketing is basically where you make a commission for selling the products and services of others. This can be done through writing reviews, making video reviews, and then driving traffic to your affiliate link so that when they buy the product you’ll make a commission on it. This can take a bit of time to see a big income, but over time it builds up if you’re doing it consistently.

Haibu Lost in New York | Book Review

Stories are a great way to get an important message to children in a creative way. This is exactly what Haibu Lost in New York written by Blake Freeman with Tara Price does.

Synopsis

Everyone things Haibu is too little to do anything, but that’s not true. She can fish for food. She can protect her village from polar bears. Even when she gets lost far away in New York. Haibu believes she can find her way back home! All she needs to do is go to the circus and ask the polar bears for help. But instead she learns that the circus animals are trapped and in really big trouble. Can Haibu save them before it’s too late?

#MelAndNikkiReview

Haibu Lost in New York is a child friendly story that allows children to think on their own on some of our actions towards animals.

It raises awareness and starts the conversation for us as parents to have with our children. It is an important conversation to have in order to create a better world for everyone.

“They deserve to be different without accepting differences in others is, and will ultimately be, mankind’s downfall.”

Haibu Lost in New York tells a story that we all can learn from.

As a family who has donated to help the wildlife and by rescuing an abused cat from the shelter, our hearts were right in the book from beginning to end.

With a great and educational storyline with stunning illustrations. This novel would be great for young readers and this is why we give it 5 stars out of 5! We recommend this book for children seven years old and up.

Also make sure to visit www.haibu.love for fun activities, games, animals, merchandise, updates and more family fun!

About the Authors

Blake Freeman grew up in many Midwestern states but lived the majority of his life in Nashville, Tennessee. Since relocating to Los Angeles, he has been in the entertainment business for over 12 years as an actor, director, writer, and producer of film and television. The books he read as a child shaped his view of the world. With that in mind, he has always felt that wild animals need a voice, and therefore Haibu was created.

Tara Price was born in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and now lives in Los Angeles, California. She has experience in everything from sales and IT to acting and production. Tara is also the voice of Haibu; any time you hear Haibu speak on YouTube, television, or in her upcoming feature film, it’s Tara’s voice!

To purchase this lovely book, please click here.

Until next time… Happy Parenting!

– Momma Braga

 

 

 

 

 

 

Book & Media labels

A Unicorn Named Sparkle’s First Christmas | Book Review

A combination of Christmas and unicorns may sound like a dream come true for many children. In fact, it sounds extra magical to me.

We are delighted to introduce you all to A Unicorn Named Sparkle’s First Christmas written and illustrated by Amy Young.

Synopsis

What do you get a unicorn for Christmas? Lucy has an idea…or two…or three…Now what, do you get a girl who already has a unicorn?

#MelAndNikkiReview

A humourous story about a unicorn named Sparkle and her trusted friend Lucy. As they both prepare for Christmas, Lucy learns a very important message at the end as friendship is always the most important at the end of the day.

We liked the storyline as there were dashes of humor and we liked the message of friendship. It’s also not about a long list of presents either. 😉

The illustrations are fun, colorful and adorable. The story and illustrations compliment each other very well throughout the book. It was an easy and enjoyable read.

We recommend this book for young children between the ages of four to six.

For this #MelAndNikkiReview, we give 5 unicorns out of 5! It’s a really cute Christmas book.

To purchase this lovely book, click here.

Until next time…Happy Parenting!

-Momma Braga

 

 

 

 

 

 

Book & Media labels

Merry Christmas, Little Elliot | Book Review

Storytime this time of year is extra special when we get to read Christmas stories as we count down to the big day.

We are delighted to introduce, Merry Christmas, Little Elliot by Mike Curato. 

Synopsis

When chance blows a letter for Santa into Little Elliot and Mouse’s path, the two friends set out to discover what Christmas is all about – and make a new friend, too. A heartfelt celebration of the season of giving, perfect for sharing!

#MelAndNikkiReview

If you are looking for the perfect Christmas story then this is the one for you. We absolutely loved this book from start to finish! The illustrations are more beautiful with each page turn as it truly gives you the feel of Christmas. The story is heartwarming. The message of the true meaning of Christmas is captured beautifully and very simple for children to comprehend.

We loved this book so much that Nikki took it with her to class and her teacher read it to the whole class. We are happy to report that they all really enjoyed the book. It got the Kindergarten thumbs up which is the highest compliment you can get! 😉

We give Merry Christmas, Little Elliot 5+++ hearts out of 5! It truly warmed up all our hearts.


Meet the Author

Mike Curato is an illustrator who loves small treasures. He has illustrated many books for children and is the author and illustrator of Little Elliot, Big City, Little Elliot, Big Family, Little Elliot, Big Fun; and Little Elliot, Fall Friends. You can find him on any given day walking around the city, eating a cupcake (or thinking about it). You can follow him on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Special Treat

The Merry Christmas, Little Elliot downloadable activity kit is sure to get you in the holiday spirit! Complete with mazes, coloring pages, and more, this kit is the perfect holiday treat. Click here to download it.

To purchase this lovely book, click here.

Until next time…Happy Parenting!

-Momma Braga

 

 

 

 

 

 

Book & Media labels

How to Throw a Superhero-themed Birthday Party?

Written By: Claire Adams

Some things never change and one of them is the fact that almost every child has a favourite superhero. There are many reasons why having a superhero in life is important and beneficial. Kids look up to characters who are always ready to stand up and fight for what they believe in, even in situations when odds are definitely not in their favour, which is an important life lesson.

While still young, children simply love the fun and excitement brought about by their favourite character and their superpowers. So, why wouldn’t you throw your child a superhero-themed birthday party and make that day truly memorable? Here are some tips you can use if you want everyone to rave about your kid’s party.

Make sure you know enough about the superhero

If you’re not sure which superhero your child currently adores, try to talk to them and find out as much as possible about the reasons they like that particular character. This should help you prepare better and the avoid humiliation of throwing a party around the wrong superhero.

Then – the special gift

This is probably the most important part of the entire scenario – the birthday gift. When you find out who their favourite superhero is, one of the best things you can do is get them one of those amazing, superhero-themed hot toys. Vinyl pops are quite effective and sure to leave your little one speechless. It will most definitely become one of their most treasured toys and always remind them of their special birthday party.

Photo credit Pexels

Invitations

When your child’s friends receive their birthday party invitations, they should get a good idea about what the party will be like. The invitation is the first signal that it’s not going to be just another party, but a carefully prepared and fun event. Luckily, there are so many templates you can use to design perfect invitations that you only need to choose the best one. Make sure you check with your youngster what kind of invitation they find the most appealing.

Include everyone

It won’t be a real superhero-themed party if only the birthday kid is dressed up as a superhero, while their guests are wearing ordinary clothes. That’s why you need to ask everyone to come dressed up as per the theme of the party. If they don’t feel like wearing the same costume, they might choose some other character or even the superhero’s nemesis. Remember, the more diverse and colourful the costumes, the better the atmosphere.

Decorations

Again, it’s a great thing we’re living in the world where you can get some amazing birthday party decorations without breaking the bank. You can get cut-outs of the superhero and his/her friends and enemies, for example. Just imagine your son or daughter and their friends having a whale of time amongst the images of Batman, Robin, the Joker or Poison Ivy.

Photo credit Pixabay

The cake

One of the most important features is surely the cake. Kids expect a superhero-themed party to have a cake to match the hype, which is why you need to do your absolute best to amaze everyone. This means you have to visit several cake shops in your neighbourhood, looking for the most breathtaking cake you can find. A wrong choice in terms of the birthday cake can really spoil the party, so be careful.

Games

You don’t expect a bunch of superheroes to be sitting around, looking at their mobile phones or tablets, do you? So, organise several games and prizes for the winners. For example, put stickers with superheroes on balloons and do the same with images of villains. Divide the guests into teams and ask them to burst the balloons with the villains. To make the things more entertaining, ask the kids to use only their feet to burst the balloons.

Superheroes are fun, birthday parties are fun, so why not combine them to make the ultimate birthday party for your little one? All the effort you invest will be worth it once you see the smiles on kids’ faces. Such parties don’t have to be very expensive, either, but you’d need to use your imagination and try just a bit harder to throw an amazing party.

 

About the Author

Claire Adams is a personal and professional development expert who believes that a positive attitude is one of the keys to success. She enjoys life to the fullest in the healthiest way possible and loves to share her insights into parenting, education, and entrepreneurship. Feel free to reach her on Facebook and Twitter.

 

Family Fun On A Budget – Is It Possible?

Budgets are a necessary evil because there is never enough money to go around. A shortage of moolah is enough to set the family back half a year. Then, all the hard work you did will wash away down the toilet. Goodbye scrimping and saving; it was nice to know you!

There is one problem: it’s boring. Staying in on a Saturday night isn’t enjoyable even when you’ve got the big picture in mind. The Holy Grail is to put money aside while having the time of your life.

For those who don’t think it’s possible, take a look at the following.

Look Local

You’re not the only mom who wants to keep the purse strings tight. Every mother in a five-mile radius will have the same idea, which is where the local community comes into play. Your neighborhood, or another one which is close by, should have events such as carnivals and street parties. Some even have drive-in movie nights where you sit in the car and watch from behind the wheel. The point is there are generally lots to do in the local community and the costs are low. If there is an admission charge, it will be low, and the kids should get in for free.

Go Out With Friends

Instead of cooking dinner for the millionth time this year, why don’t you treat everybody and go to a restaurant? Oh right, it’s because it’s expensive. Well, it doesn’t have to be if you go out as a group. As soon as there are ten to fifteen people in your squad, the cost of the meal reduces by a significant amount. Even with a tip, it shouldn’t be more than $15 per person, per meal. Tapas is a great cuisine to split with others because it’s made for sharing and you don’t need many dishes to enjoy it.

Or Invite Them Round To Eat

There’s no reason to eat as a family for every single meal. Although you love the kids, it gets boring when all they want to do is eat, play with their phones, and watch TV. Adults need stimulating conversation and lots of jokes to have fun, which your friends have in spades. That’s why this blog post recommends throwing a dinner party and inviting your nearest and dearest. Everybody can bring a dish, which cuts down on the costs, and you can supply the alcohol. Now that sounds cheap and like a lot of fun!

Bag A Bargain

Another tip from the same blog is to sign up for discount codes and vouchers. It might feel embarrassing at first, but there’s nothing wrong with adding a voucher code to your shopping list. Nowadays, you can do it online so there’s no reason to say it out loud in front of a restaurant full of customers. Being thrifty is about doing the little things to save the big bucks. Whether it’s 5% off or 50%, every little does help.

Plus, you get to go on an impromptu shopping session which is always fun.

 

Christmas Magic In A Letter | The Belief In Santa

The Christmas season is upon us and it is my favorite time of year. It seems that there is a little extra magic in the air as the spirit of giving surrounds us.

My heart is always extra full this time of year as I try to make each year more magical then the next for my daughter. Part of the Christmas magic is the belief in Santa Claus. A jolly man who makes a list of who has been naughty and nice. Then travels all over the world to deliver toys to the nice kids on the list.

The excitement to write to Santa and to receive a letter back helps keep the belief alive and one that we have done yearly with our daughter, Nikki.

In previous years we have sent our “Santa Letter” to a free service offered by Canada Post. Their special elves help Santa answer all the letters in time for your little ones (*there is a deadline date to watch out for). The first two years the letters back where cute and a personalized touch was added which made the letters extra special.

However, last year the letter was standard and no personalized touch was added. There was nothing special about it and what should I really expect from a free service, right?! So why not to do it myself?! 

One night as we were hosting a family playdate with my cousin and her boys. We both talked about how disappointed we were in the letters from Santa. I was relieved that I wasn’t the only one who felt that way.

So I pitched the idea that we should do the Santa letters for one another and my cousin Chantelle loved the idea!

Christmas Magic In A Letter

We now get to share some Christmas magic between family by doing Santa Letters to one another. The best part for us will be to see our children’s faces when they get a very personalized letter from Santa. 

Nikki and her adorable cousins John Lucas and Connor at our last playdate.

This is how we are doing it this year.

Writing “Dear Santa” Letter

Our child writes their letter to Santa (depending on their writing ability, it may be the parent writing most of it). In our case, I write Nikki’s letter but she adds her artistic flare to her letter.

Mailing Letter to “Santa”

Child mails the letter out to “Santa” (if they are young they will not notice the address so this wasn’t an issue for either one of us right now). 😉

Mailing a letter to Santa is serious business 😉

Highlights For Santa Reply Letter

Send some points (max of 3) of your child to the family member writing the Santa letter that you would like highlighted. For example, I wanted to make sure it was noted that Nikki started her first year of school; becoming more independent and her good manners.

Handwriting the Reply Letter

Once the “Dear Santa Letter” is received, the family member can now hand write the letter in response with the highlighted points and reference to any artistic touch done on the letter.

Mail the Santa Reply Letter

Family member mails the Santa response letter and add any other little touches that they may want to add (my cousin thought of adding an “Elf Report” indicating if they made it to the nice or naughty list – so cute!).

Open the Magic of Christmas

Child receives their magical and very personalized letter. The belief continues with much love.

We just started the process and we can’t wait to see our children react to their very special letters. A little extra that we are doing is keeping the “Dear Santa” from our children in little boxes. This way when they are older we can give them their letters so they can see what they said and did in their belief of Christmas magic. I think that is my favorite part of all this.

I am really excited to keep the belief going and doing this exchange between family. A more personalized, heart and love in our quest for that little extra spirit this holiday season.

How do you carry on the Christmas spirit in your family? Would love to hear from all of you in the comment section below.

Until next time…Happy Parenting!

-Momma Braga